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Jim Hightower
Jim Hightower
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Who Killed the Bluebird of Happiness?

Comment

Economists and politicians keep their fingers on the pulse of the Dow Jones Average, following every tick of this narrow measure of Wall Street wealth.

But the truer indicator of America's economic health is in the Doug Jones Average — how are workaday folks like Doug and Doreen doing? After all, the experts tell us that we're now entering the third year of a glorious economic recovery from the Great Recession, so surely the bluebirds of happiness are chirping again in Dougland. But, listen: silence.

What killed off the bluebirds is the same greed of moneyed elites that caused the crash. Since the recession ended in July 2009, CEO pay is back in the stratosphere, corporate profits are up by nearly half, corporations are sitting on a record $2 trillion in cash, and the perky Dow Jones Average has soared by a delirious 90 percent, with nearly all of that gain being pocketed by the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans who own more that 80 percent of all stocks and bonds. The sounds you hear up there are the pop-pop-pop of Champagne corks.

Yet more that half of Americans say the recession is still raging in their zip codes, and nearly a third of them describe it as a full-blown depression. What's bugging these party poopers? Reality.

In this "recovery," those at the top of corporate America are practicing tinkle-down economics, refusing to hire the Dougs and Doreens, while eliminating hundreds of thousands of other jobs, knocking down wages and benefits, and unleashing their lobbyists on Washington and state capitals to shred jobless programs, health care, education, worker rights and other basics that sustain America's middle class.

If a bluebird did show up in Doug and Doreen's yard these days, it wouldn't be chirping — it'd be dinner.

At least President Obama recognizes that the workaday majority has been knocked down: "Our economy as a whole," he says (with what passes for keen insight in today's clueless Washington), "just isn't producing nearly enough jobs." Indeed, as one economic analyst put it: "June's employment report doesn't have a single redeeming feature.

It's awful from start to finish."

The numbers were depressing:

— Only 18,000 jobs were added to the economy in June. It takes about 10 times that just to cover the new jobseekers who enter the market each month.

— The unemployment rate rose to 9.2 percent. It would've been worse, except a quarter-million jobless people were so discouraged by their fruitless search that they quit looking in June. If you give up the search, our Orwellian system no longer counts you as unemployed, even though you are.

— For those with jobs, average hourly wages this year are 1.6 percent lower than in 2010 — the tiny pay raises that workers did get were swallowed whole by oil giants, supermarkets, utilities and other price-hikers.

So, congressional leaders and the president are trying to cut a deal — not to launch the bold, can-do jobs program that America urgently needs, but to slash spending on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other essential programs.

Adding to this Kafkaesque disconnect from reality, Republican leaders are locking arms (and minds) to prevent any cuts to the insane tax handouts now going to billionaire hedge fund speculators, Big Oil and multinational corporations that hide massive profits in offshore tax havens. While they cut the poor, no tax giveaway to the rich is so revolting that GOP lawmakers won't kiss it right on the lips, as shown by their insistence that even the $3 billion a year doled out to subsidize corporate jets is off limits, as is the subsidy that Uncle Sam gives yacht owners. Seriously, jets and yachts!

Sen. Jon Kyl whined that Democrats "want ordinary Americans to believe that they will not be affected by the president's tax-increase proposals." If anyone knows what planet Kyl lives on, please beam the news to him that ordinary Americans don't have corporate jets and yachts. We can laugh, but clowns like Kyl are destroying our middle class to make America safe for plutocrats.

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2011 CREATORS.COM



Comments

3 Comments | Post Comment
Our country is so rich that we could each work two hours a day and supply all our products. However, traditionally, rulers do not want populations free to dance in the streets. Friday and Saturday nights are bad enough. How did the ancient Egyptians solve this issue after they had caught enough fish and built enough houses to sustain everyone? They did not do what the NAZIS did (kill superfluous persons). Instead, the ancient Egyptians created jobs. They built pyramids. When we watch speakers on both sides of the aisle (as they say), we see the same thing: Easter Island. The people on Easter Island could not figure out anything other than their narrow view of life, they used up all the trees on the island, allowed their crops to fail, and they ended up with cannibalism.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Mike Hayne
Wed Jul 13, 2011 4:12 AM
I never gave much credence to the most cynical evaluations of our country. But, when a depression has been going on for this long, with this much unemployment, and Congress is still afraid to do anything that might displease the very rich -- then, yes, it does look very much like the richest monied interests have simply bought the government of the United States, and have no intention of giving it back, ever.

That's when I start picturing certain people hanging from streetlights.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Steven Doyle
Wed Jul 13, 2011 5:40 AM
When bush went in front of the nation to tell us of the imminent financial collapse of the economy - I thought " the politicians have finally done it and plundered the us treasury" nothing in the ensuing years has diminished the verity ofbthis conclusion. We have seperation of church and state of military and state but nothing that seperates banks from state.
Jefferson , madison and jackson all understood how vulnerable this nation was to piracy from banks - the only real protection we had the glass- steagel act of 1933 essentially staved off these raiders until de regulation started. The free for all ended in 2008 with the last bastion of immense wealth in housing fell into the coffers of the banks and the fed reserve the last of any liquid capital this country had.
Limited but necessary government administerd by the people.
After the banks own a majority of housing they will set prices too high but for the very wealthy. The rest i leave to your imagination. Its going to be a new feudalism unless we become involved in our local governments and work upwards.
Comment: #3
Posted by: philip young
Sat Sep 1, 2012 10:22 AM
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